Fish Story

August 13 , 2001 – More good news! Jabber's recent urinalysis came back negative for E. coli. That's two tests in a row! His urine still contains blood and we don't know why, so we need to keep an eye on it. We'll do another urinalysis in a few weeks. Jabber had a rolfing session on Tuesday, courtesy of our favorite rolfer, Brian Hopkins, who donated his time and energy to help Jabber. (Brian usually rolfs people, not dogs.) After a 45 minute rolfing session Jabber exhibited more flexibility in his "frozen" knee. Over the past five days we've seen further improvement. Jabber is not dragging his foot as much – probably because he can bend his knee a little bit more – and he is steadier on steps. Jabber will have another rolfing session in a couple of weeks. (For more information about rolfing, please visit

Okay, let's move on. I'll be the first to admit that this week's picture is a little odd. It's a rerun from three years ago. I came across "Fish Story" the other day and it brought back fond memories so I decided to run it again for those of you who never saw it. You'll notice that Jabber was "in trouble" back then, too. He had killed a wild raccoon and we were nervously waiting for the rabies report. If you are a fan of Jabber, be sure to click the link below to read about the raccoon. Jabber chased down a lot of raccoons that summer. By the time he killed his fourth raccoon, Jabber was almost a celebrity. One day the division manager of the General Sanitation arm of our county's Environmental Health Services Department came calling. He said he wanted to meet Jabber in person after hearing so much about him.

And now, the real Fish Story...

May 4, 1998 – In last week's DaDane you learned that Jabber, our Great Dane, killed a sick raccoon that was suspected of being rabid. Its brain was being tested for rabies. If the results were positive, Jabber faced a strict quarantine that could last up to ninety days. Thank goodness the test came back negative. We have since learned that approximately one third of the wild raccoons living in our region will eventually contract canine distemper. Most die. Distemper in raccoons causes peculiar behavior which sometimes makes them appear rabid. Jabber's raccoon probably had distemper. (See last week's raccoon story.)

Pick a fish, any fish.
What I am about to tell you is true. Even the names are real. Okay, so I sometimes twist the truth a little bit, like the time I told you all about Operation Hoover, where the government was sending out an army of automated "search and destroy" web robots to rid the internet of useless dog web sites. It could have been true. (And this site would have been the first to go.) But today's Fish Story proves that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The story contains no exaggerations, white lies or falsehoods. It is the absolute truth. I promise.

The story begins here.
We live in a rural area in South Carolina. Our wooded property is large and the most unique feature is the 8 acre pond that sits in our front yard. Kilmer Pond is home to many creatures. From the end of our dock, I regularly feed turtles and fish. Over the years some of them have become pretty tame. I started out feeding everyone floating catfish food and bits of bread, but now I add occasional delicacies such as raw chicken liver, giblets, and canned dog food. Many of the turtles will take food from my hand. A few of them will eat dog food directly off a spoon. (Their favorite is Alpo Beef with Bacon, but they aren't very picky. Just about anything will do.)

Besides the turtles, I have a favorite fish. He's a large-mouth bass named FishFace. I have been feeding FishFace for a couple of years. He is really big, maybe 18-20" long. FishFace won't touch floating catfish food, but he will eat almost anything that has meat in it. Before this story progresses, you need to know something about his habits. FishFace spends a lot of his time hanging out under the dock. When he hears my footfall, usually just before dusk, he comes out and follows me as I walk to the end of the dock. He stays just below the surface of the water. If I raise my hand, he responds by moving his body. He watches my hand closely. Then I toss a little something to him so he knows what he's getting for dinner. On a good night, I can call FishFace, hold a piece of meat just above the surface of the water, and he will jump up and grab it from me. On a really good night, I can hold the food about six inches from the surface and he'll jump right out of the water to get it.

Turtles, turtles everywhere...
Last Tuesday evening I was feeding the turtles. FishFace was nowhere to be seen. I had a piece of liver in my hand and I was patiently coaxing a shy turtle to take it from me. Suddenly, and without warning, FishFace exploded from the water. He grabbed 2/3 of my hand in his mouth (all five fingers, way past the third knuckle) and clamped down hard. I screamed and tried to pull my hand from the water. FishFace was still attached. I pulled him halfway out of the water. My husband, who had been enjoying a quiet evening communing with nature until my arrival on the dock ten minutes earlier, witnessed the whole event. According to Billy, FishFace held onto my hand for about five seconds. It seemed like an eternity. "I really think you could have have landed him," he told me later. (Right, Billy. I don't know why I didn't think of that. We could have had fish for dinner.)

Well, after FishFace released my hand I was left with a badly scraped hand. He had drawn blood. FishFace has teeth, or something resembling teeth, anyway. (Who'd have guessed? At least fish don't carry rabies.) If you look carefully at my DaDane illustration, which exhibits an actual scan of my hand taken four days later, you can see exactly where FishFace bit me. I think perhaps he released my hand at the precise moment I dropped the liver into his gullet, but I can't be sure. It all happened so fast.

So that's my Fish Story.
Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of FishFace eating. We will try to take some soon. (I'll be the one wearing protective gloves.) If you would like to see an actual photo of FishFace, visit Franny's World. At that terrific website, you will find 25 photos taken at our home by Brian Smith, who attended our spring DaneFest with his beloved Great Dane, Franny.

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